Zombie Squad

We make dead things deader
It is currently Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:57 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 24 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:03 pm 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
I've been reading these boards and many others, trying to find solutions that will fit what I need. I think I understand what I need, but I'm just hoping there may be another solution. Before I start this thread, please understand my wife has never given me a hard time about prepping, and is actually very involved. She has never given me any trouble on any of our preps. So with that said, Here is the problem:

My wife and I work 60-80 miles from each other during the week (depending on if home or work at same time she is at work). I want a consistant, reliable way to contact her without having to rely on cell phones in case of an emergency. We already have planned routes, meeting places, times, etc...but I would just feel better (as she would too) if I could just speak with her. I know the easy answer is HAM, however this presents a problem for us.

1) I work 2 full time jobs and go to school full time, perhaps I could fit in more study time but it is really difficult. I will admit it is possible and would do it if...
2) I'm having trouble getting the wife involved in THIS. She has been on board with her own BOB, she enjoys shooting, etc...Understands the need for the prepping we're doing. But the cost at this time as well as time commitment is just turning her off from the idea. She's not really into learning a new skill like radio communication and just lacks interest. I agree right now the cost is prohibative, but I am just in stages of doing research so I can get it right the first time. I'm not asking for ideas on how to convince her, because I know if I really asked her to do it for me she would even if she didn't want to. I just don't wish for it to come to that and am searching for alternatives.

I personally am a little turned off by using repeaters because I am relying on someone elses network. I know this is not something easy to get around, but is there any possible solution for simplex communication between my wife and I over such a long distance with reliability? If HAM is our only option, then I'll just keep going that route, but I was hoping for other ideas or solutions. BTW she is in a major city for her work with several large buildings and such.

As far as equipment, money is a bit tight right now but not for long. I will graduate soon and free up some expenses. I have no problem with having a 20' line on top of my truck with a large unit in the dash. Again, the wife would be a bit harder to convince to do an "in-car" setup. With her line of work it is not the type of message we would want to show people anyway so I would like to avoid it if possible. I realize I may be asking for the impossible, but then again this may be more simple than I am making it.

*My best solution so far is 2 handheld HAM radios and using repeaters to communicate. If this is the best/only/most plausable solution I will just continue down this path.
*I wouldn't mind a large unit in my truck. I don't believe CB would be a solution here but would love to be proven wrong. If I have a large unit I may be able to connect to her directly? Any suggestions?
*any ideas you have would be great. I know this post looks like a pile of throwup, and isn't explained all that well. I'm just trying to get this across between breaks. Thanks in advance!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:25 pm 
Offline
* * * * *

Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:37 pm
Posts: 5652
You're right, amateur radio is going to be about your best option for reliable communications at that distance.

As to your other concerns regarding it...

I'm not understanding what you mean about ham radio not being the kind of "message" you want to show people in her line of work. In general I've found that amateur radio operators are well respected and valued in their community, and project a positive image to those around them. Your concerns about repeaters, and being dependent on someone else's infrastructure are valid, but I'd point out that many repeaters have backup power sources, and will continue to function after most disasters. And... 60-80 miles on 2m simplex isn't unheard of, with good antennas and terrain. I regularly communicate with another station 75 miles from home on 2m FM.

Equipment costs can be high though, if you want to "do it right", but there's nothing wrong with buying decent used equipment just to get started, and adding to it or replacing it later on to improve.

And, while you may not have a lot of free time, studying for your tech license should not be a huge burden. It takes someone with almost no knowledge of radio about 20 hours of study to pass a tech exam. A good place to do a lot of that study is online, and you can devote as much, or as little time to it each day as you can spare. One online study place that I heartily endorse is www.hamtestonline.com

_________________
NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
- Keith Laumer


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:47 pm 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
KJ4VOV wrote:
I'm not understanding what you mean about ham radio not being the kind of "message" you want to show people in her line of work.

let's just say these are the type of people who will mention if there are not power locks/windows on a car, all seats aren't power seats...Guns are not to be seen...etc. Just a different type of "market" and I do not wish to have any chance for it to mess with my wife's career. I'm not saying they have valid concerns, but it is what it is at this point.

Thanks for the rest of the info. I figured it is our best chance (if we had two car type systems we could probably reach each other no problem) but was just hoping for any alternatives. Part of this is the wanting it "soon" verses waiting for the whole HAM process and costs. Thanks again!

BTW, on your home system what wattage are you using if you don't mind me asking, and are you using directional signal or what is your setup?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:21 pm 
Offline
ZS Chapter Volunteer
ZS Chapter Volunteer
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:34 pm
Posts: 4798
Location: WNC Mountains
Thanks for the great link KJ4VOV!
Mr. NoAm & I have been using http://www.qrz.com/xtest2.html We test on Thursday.
We also will be getting Lil NoAm licensed this year.
All 3 of us will be carrying the handheld units, in our EDCs.
When Mr. NoAm traveled a lot, this was our biggest concern, no communication.
We have thought about this long and hard, for us the answer was the HAM radios.

If you study online, you could probably go in and test for $10 (I believe). Find a local HAM club and they can let you know dates of the exams.

_________________
ZSC025 President
Check out this months newsletter To see how to save on food storage
ZS Chapter VolunteerHave questions about starting a chapter?‚óŹWant to find other ZS members in your area? Looking for other ZS members to start a chapter with? Check here first New Chapter Coordination Questions or email us at chapters@zombiehunters.org


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:11 pm 
Offline
* * * * *

Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:37 pm
Posts: 5652
nathat wrote:
KJ4VOV wrote:
I'm not understanding what you mean about ham radio not being the kind of "message" you want to show people in her line of work.

let's just say these are the type of people who will mention if there are not power locks/windows on a car, all seats aren't power seats...Guns are not to be seen...etc. Just a different type of "market" and I do not wish to have any chance for it to mess with my wife's career. I'm not saying they have valid concerns, but it is what it is at this point.


Ah yes... The technical term for such folks is "potential future helpless refugee" :wink:

nathat wrote:
BTW, on your home system what wattage are you using if you don't mind me asking, and are you using directional signal or what is your setup?


The answer to that question would depend on what radio I'm using, and what antenna. I have a selection of antennas to choose from.
For the 75 mile contact it's usually done with 50 watts using omnidirectional antenna with about 7dbi gain, though I can switch to a small beam with 14dbi gain if I need to, and power can be increased to 100watts.

The longest 2m contact I've made, phone (voice) without unusual propagation (tropo ducting, etc.) was from Hunt Valley, MD to Spotsylvainia, VA (about 150 miles) using a 14dbi beam (both stations) on 20' of mast on top of a 500' hill and 65 watts of power.

_________________
NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
- Keith Laumer


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:33 pm 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Posts: 353
What is the terrain like in between you and your wife?
In other words, what is your elevation, what is your wife's elevation and what are the highest elevations in between the two of you?
nathat wrote:
*My best solution so far is 2 handheld HAM radios and using repeaters to communicate. If this is the best/only/most plausable solution I will just continue down this path.

No. And the overwhelming majority of repeaters will be offline after a disaster or other emergency. Even if a repeater has backup power, I would still plan for something else.
You can still use portables but you'll need to repeat them on your own. That's not as daunting as it may seem. But let's talk about obstructions before we explore that avenue.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:39 pm 
Offline
* * * * *

Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:37 pm
Posts: 5652
Will a lot of repeaters be down after a major disaster? Yes, that goes without dispute. Will it be an "overwhelming majority"? Perhaps, but I believe the repeaters most likely to be down after a major incident are the ones that don't get much use anyway. There should still be two or three in most areas that remain functional.

_________________
NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
- Keith Laumer


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:28 am 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:22 pm
Posts: 361
KJ4VOV wrote:
Will a lot of repeaters be down after a major disaster? Yes, that goes without dispute. Will it be an "overwhelming majority"? Perhaps, but I believe the repeaters most likely to be down after a major incident are the ones that don't get much use anyway. There should still be two or three in most areas that remain functional.


And those will be dedicated to emergency communications and calling your wife would not be emergency comms... Even if there are repeaters online I would not rely on them. They will be in use and unavailable for most.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:30 am 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
zommoz10 wrote:
What is the terrain like in between you and your wife?
In other words, what is your elevation, what is your wife's elevation and what are the highest elevations in between the two of you?
nathat wrote:
*My best solution so far is 2 handheld HAM radios and using repeaters to communicate. If this is the best/only/most plausable solution I will just continue down this path.

No. And the overwhelming majority of repeaters will be offline after a disaster or other emergency. Even if a repeater has backup power, I would still plan for something else.
You can still use portables but you'll need to repeat them on your own. That's not as daunting as it may seem. But let's talk about obstructions before we explore that avenue.


There are some elevation changes from here to there (light rolling hills of GA) but the main problem is she will be in Atlanta with large buildings and structures. I'll need more info on "repeat them on your own" because I didn't realize this is even possible. If you're speaking of buying and registering our own repeaters...This is just getting expensive! :gonk:


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:37 am 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Posts: 353
gary in ohio wrote:
KJ4VOV wrote:
Will a lot of repeaters be down after a major disaster? Yes, that goes without dispute. Will it be an "overwhelming majority"? Perhaps, but I believe the repeaters most likely to be down after a major incident are the ones that don't get much use anyway. There should still be two or three in most areas that remain functional.


And those will be dedicated to emergency communications and calling your wife would not be emergency comms... Even if there are repeaters online I would not rely on them. They will be in use and unavailable for most.


My thoughts exactly. Even if there are some functional repeaters, use after a major disaster may be highly controlled. Such as by a net or other type of command. And we're still talking about 80 miles here.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:51 am 
Offline
* * * *

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:50 am
Posts: 948
Location: Greater Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I'm thinking that 2m (VHF) isn't going to cut it for this sort of distance and terrain. More than likly the OP and wife are going to have to look at going HF to avoid repeaters and other limitations. That means more study and testing for a hobby that the wife isn't interested in. Mobile HF work is very possible at those distances but I have to figure that this is something the wife simply isn't prepared to get into at the present time. Maybe when things settle down a bit and finantials are a bit better.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:54 am 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Posts: 353
nathat wrote:
zommoz10 wrote:
What is the terrain like in between you and your wife?
In other words, what is your elevation, what is your wife's elevation and what are the highest elevations in between the two of you?
nathat wrote:
*My best solution so far is 2 handheld HAM radios and using repeaters to communicate. If this is the best/only/most plausable solution I will just continue down this path.

No. And the overwhelming majority of repeaters will be offline after a disaster or other emergency. Even if a repeater has backup power, I would still plan for something else.
You can still use portables but you'll need to repeat them on your own. That's not as daunting as it may seem. But let's talk about obstructions before we explore that avenue.


There are some elevation changes from here to there (light rolling hills of GA) but the main problem is she will be in Atlanta with large buildings and structures. I'll need more info on "repeat them on your own" because I didn't realize this is even possible. If you're speaking of buying and registering our own repeaters...This is just getting expensive! :gonk:


I'm in the Atlanta area myself. GA is brutal for simplex unless you're on top of a mountain or have a high power base antenna and tower. If you ever monitor the atlanta repeaters, half the time users have lousy signals into even the high site repeaters. It's not just the hills but also the trees. And if you've got an urban area with all it's noise and tall buildings as well, then I'm afraid your prospects aren't looking too good for 60-80 miles or even half of that without a decent high site repeater in between the two of you. And as already mentioned, relying on a repeater to be there after a disaster is risky.

Your best chance may be low band VHF (or the 6 meter ham band) or maybe even 10 meters FM with a she-it load of power and a high gain antenna. I've seen people do about 50 miles on 6 meters FM -under normal conditions, not skip- on 50-100 watts with a long dangley Dukes of Hazzard style antenna on the car.

Luckily this is something you can try without spending too much dough.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:14 pm 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
Help point me in the right direction? I don't know what is considered a high gain, etc. I understand your terms but I don't have a benchmark...If I managed to get two 100w systems in each car, say 10m band (for this particular purpose only. I understand the 2 and 6 are more frequent for normal use), what type of range would we have? Considering we will be going our preplanned routes anyway, 40 miles is better than the nothing we have now...I just want to be able to get in touch the best we can incase (see when) things that weren't expected happen. Also, keep in mind mobility of the system would not be a bad thing. Any ideas on specific equipment? Sorry I'm such a noob at this, but I'm just trying to learn.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:05 pm 
Offline
* * * * *

Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:37 pm
Posts: 5652
Considering that you're unlikely to remain in place (you said you had a preplanned meeting point) I still think 2m would be the way to go. True, repeaters might be tied up, but health & welfare reports would be an acceptable part of that traffic, so you could probably still reach each other for a quick check. As you move to your pre-planned area though you'd be getting closer, and could switch to simplex at that point.

_________________
NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
- Keith Laumer


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:21 pm 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Posts: 353
I never lost sight of the portability factor.

I think I know just the radio for you.
I have a Yaesu FT-8900R quad band mobile, It does 10, 6, 2 & 440 FM only. I can't remember the power off hand but I think it's 50 watts, which you can amplify. You can also cross band repeat with it so you can use something like a UHF portable HT on the one side and 10 meters on the other side. That way your wife in an office building can get out to you many miles away from the convenience of a little HT in her desk drawer. The signal goes from the HT to the 8900 in the vehicle.

You can experiment with the different bands all on one radio. The one major drawback with the 8900 is that it's only got one antenna connection.

To make your initial target of 60-80 miles, I'd be looking at directional antennas. For the 10 ad 6 those are size prohibitive for a vehicle. So if you're just looking for the best simplex range you can get out of it see if you can find a decent antenna for 10 and 6 or maybe even 10, 6 and 2. I have a tri band base antenna by Diamond for the 8900, it does 6, 2 and 400 but not 10. I have heard some distant repeaters on it during band openings. From as far away as NY.

Come to think of it, I think Diamond makes or used to make a quad band antenna for this radio. I don't recall if it was a base or mobile antenna.

Is your home in between the two of you by any chance? If so you can use an 8900 as a base cross band repeater. For example if the home is in the middle, between the two of you, your wife can use 6m to get back into the base and spits out the signal on another band to make up the rest of the distance.

You might also want to use amplifiers. They are pretty expensive though. See if you can get anywhere on 50 watts. If you can't even hear anything on 50 watts, chances are 100 watts isn't going to make all that much difference.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:34 pm 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 11:21 pm
Posts: 609
Location: Buffalo, NY
zommoz10 wrote:
Is your home in between the two of you by any chance? If so you can use an 8900 as a base cross band repeater. For example if the home is in the middle, between the two of you, your wife can use 6m to get back into the base and spits out the signal on another band to make up the rest of the distance.

Keep in mind that you still need to comply with the usual rules on repeaters if you do this, such as the requirement to have a means of shutting the thing off remotely if it's causing interference.

Personally, I don't see 60-80 miles of hills and city as being practical for much of anything but HF NVIS, which requires rather inconvenient antennas and expensive radios, or repeaters. I might suggest looking up the repeaters that cover your area (here, for example) and finding out how they're set up for power, emergency use, etc. Maybe get to know the people who run them and help make sure they have a robust backup power system.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:19 am 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
I'm not against using repeaters for normal use, but in that respect I'll just call her cell for now. I would like to plan for something self contained. A "repeater" in the car connected to a mobile handheld may be an option. I'll have to slowly work up to that.

For the meantime, I think I may try to set up something in both our cars, maybe go for a general ticket for myself. Then once cash allows I could add portable handheld to the setup. If I can use HF then we can test it out as I'm on the cell with her to make sure it will work over the distance. In an emergancy, even if she doesn't have her ticket, she would be allowed to use it correct? She could learn how to use it from me over a period of time and would eventually feel comfortable to go take her test I think. Thanks for all the great advice and for the realization of what I need to do. I've been interested in HAM for a while anyway, now I have an excuse :).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:30 am 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Posts: 353
Bunsen wrote:
Keep in mind that you still need to comply with the usual rules on repeaters if you do this, such as the requirement to have a means of shutting the thing off remotely if it's causing interference.


Good point. I was using a software based controller with mine a while back. I forgot about that.

nathat wrote:
In an emergancy, even if she doesn't have her ticket, she would be allowed to use it correct?


Anyone- licensed or unlicensed- can use a the ham band to make a distress call. As in "mayday mayday the ship's going down!". That might be what you're thinking of.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:39 am 
Offline
* * * * *

Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:37 pm
Posts: 5652
nathat wrote:
In an emergancy, even if she doesn't have her ticket, she would be allowed to use it correct?


If she, or those around her, are in imminent danger, yes. But not if there's just an overall "danger" to the area.

Example:

There's a tornado warning issued for the area, and a funnel has been reported 25 miles east of her. No, she can't use the radio.

There's a tornado warning issued for the area and a funnel touched down close to her. Several people are trapped in debris. Yes, she can use the radio to call for aid for those people, not just to tell you she's okay

_________________
NOTE: Due to the rising cost of ammunition, warning shots will no longer be given.

There's always a certain percentage of any population with the conviction that society is a conspiracy to deny them their rights.
The right to be totally ignorant of any useful knowledge seems to be the basic one.
- Keith Laumer


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:45 am 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
understood.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:52 am 
Offline
* * *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Posts: 353
Of course there's always third party. Wouldn't need a license if the station was under control of another ham.

You don't need another human to do testing though.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:22 pm 
Offline
* *
User avatar

Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:54 am
Posts: 146
Location: Lompoc, Ca
What about satellite phones?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:19 am 
Offline
* * *

Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:10 pm
Posts: 474
I think they would be less reliable than what we're speaking of. Too easy to shut off. Nice idea though.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:42 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:30 pm
Posts: 6
Amateur Radio Advice:

1. Visit or join a local Ham radio Club meeting. They are usually local and held monthly. Local Hams are the best resource when getting started in radio communications and are happy help bring new people into the hobby. Many clubs will also assist with station setup and hold annual "Field Day" events. A list of clubs can be found on the American Radio Relay League's website (http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club). You can also find testing information and support with ARRL.

2. Equipment can be pricy but there is allot of used equipment out there. Ham club members and ebay are great places to find quality used equipment.

3. Radio communications are only as good as the antenna system used. For base station and mobile operations invest in quality antennas, connectors, and cable. If your radio works and you have a good antenna system you will be fine. Those who are new to the hobby should reach-out to the local ham club for cable assistance (making connectors). $100.00 worth of cable does no good if the connector is installed incorrectly.

4. There are alternatives to traditional repeaters. "Simplex" repeaters are very effective and cheap (less than $100.00) and can be connected to almost any type of radio. I own several ADS-SR-1 Simplex Repeaters and they work great (https://www.argentdata.com/catalog/prod ... ucts_id=98).

Ham radio is a public service and provides a great opportunity to learn new skills.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 24 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group